Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hello again!

It's been too too long since I've last posted something, but I thought I would try again to revive my blog. 

First, updates on my life and one of the biggest reasons why I've decided to start blogging again. Up until a few days ago, I was working a full-time job outside of the home and now I'm not. And no, I didn't get fired or let go. I actually resigned. Why you may ask?  Well now, I will have the time to start doing my other full-time job, full-time during the day: being a mom to my two young children, Jacob (6) and Chloe (3). My husband and I are very fortunate to only need one parent (my husband, Calvin) work full-time outside of the home. 

This is definitely a big change for me as I've been working full-time since my first job after university (minus a couple of mat leaves). And I will be honest, I was hesitant at first. Even though we were in a similar situation not too long ago (Calvin was at home with the kids for about a year while I worked a full-time job) and we were okay with our finances, it still scared me to be the one who was not working. But after mulling the thought over for a while and getting emotional support from my friends and co-workers, I was mentally ready to make the change. And once I started thinking about it even more, I started getting excited.

Of course, the main purpose of me staying at home full-time is to look after the kids and making sure Jacob stays on track for school. However, I am keeping my fingers crossed that maybe I will also get a chance to maybe start some projects on my own (more on this in future postings), including updating my blog regularly. My own stuff however (the bigger projects at least), can't get started until I get some other stuff done first. Like, getting the house in order. BIG TASK. As a mother of 2 little kids (and one big one), I'm sure (I hope) that there are a lot of you out there who understand me that keeping a tidy household is not easy.

So here is my current task list of things to get done in the next couple of weeks (I'm being really hopeful here):

  1. Fold piles of laundry that have been sitting there for weeks AND put them away
  2. Iron washed clothes that have been sitting there for weeks AND put them away
  3. Vacuum and mop floors, upstairs AND downstairs
  4. Organize kids' clothing (this will definitely have to be an ongoing task)
  5. Organize my clothing
  6. Organize Calvin's clothing (ugh, the bane of my existence)

I'll leave it at that for now. Wish me luck, comrades.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Frosted malts: my never ending quest...

And no... I don't mean A Frosty from Wendy's, but the kind I used to get from Willie Woozle back in the day. Thick, chocolatey, with a slight gritty, malty bite to it and of course, always served in a styrofoam cup to keep it cold. Oh how I miss those days.

This is the best picture of a frosted malt I could find! And if you're wondering why I can't just go to this place to get one, Kewpee Hamburgers is in Ohio, so no, not possible :P

The last time I had one was actually a few years ago. Calvin and I had gone to the New Westminster Quay for some reason I can't remember. We passed by the ice cream shop and to my surprise they were still serving frosted malts! I was so excited! I think we only got a medium size to share (big regret), and since then we were always telling ourselves we would go back for more. Unfortunately, after that, the Quay went under renovations and the ice cream shop went bye bye. 

So I have been on a quest to find that hidden jewel of an establishment that still serves frosted malts: visiting random ice cream or hot dog shops, Googling menu information for restaurants or diners, I've even just replied to an old posting on Chowhound from another fellow Vancouverite on the same hunt**. Unfortunately none of my attempts have lead to a successful result.

Calvin and I are heading out to Tofino this week to celebrate Calvin's 30th birthday. You can be sure that I will be scoping out any and every ice cream shop there for a frosted malt. I think that would be the best birthday gift Calvin could ever receive. LOL!! Okay maybe not, but it would definitely make the trip worth it! :)

**Update: someone actually replied to my comment on Chowhound not long after I had posted it. There is apparently this new old fashion soda fountain and confectionery place that opened up in North Burnaby called Glenburn. And "malts" are included on the menu! However, I'm not sure if it will be exactly the same thing I'm looking for, but it's definitely worth checking out, which Calvin and I will hopefully do tonight or tomorrow. Eeek! Can't wait!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cho Sun BBQ: A Restaurant Review

I decided to get back into the swing of things and start reviewing restaurants I've been to. Whether I take the time to actually sit down and type out the review is a whole other story.

Tonight's review is of Cho Sun BBQ Korean Restaurant (my Google search indicates that is the entire name, as awkward as it sounds), which we ate at last month. Yes, it was that long ago. Do I actually remember my experience there? For the most part.

As you can tell from the photo, we ate there for dinner. We arrived there before six o'clock and the place was already full with a few groups of people waiting for a table. Mind you, the place looks big from the outside, but in reality, it's a fairly small joint. Good thing we didn't have to wait that long to sit down.

My main reason for wanting to eat here? Meat. And lots of it. Since I didn't get my BBQ beef dinner in Japan, I had a major craving for it. Calvin and I rarely eat BBQ when we go to Korean restaurants, mostly because it can be quite expensive for only 2 people. If you've never been to a Korean BBQ restaurant before, the basic idea is that the restaurant will offer various sets of marinated meats (and sometimes seafood) that you can choose to cook at your own table.

From our past Korean BBQ eating experience, if there are only 2 of you, some restaurants won't let you cook it yourself, the kitchen will cook it for you. This option is certainly fine by me as it's less work for you and you get to eat all of your meat sooner than later ;) From what I can remember, the BBQ set for 2 at Cho Sun was a decent price. Oh and the menu also had a large selection of Japanese food as well, including sushi. The sushi part kind of sketched me out a little, but I hadn't planned on getting that anyway. Calvin played it safe and ordered the tamago nigiri.

What does good tamago look like? I am not too sure, but this looks alright.

Calvin usually gets a couple of pieces of this when we go to Japanese restaurants. He said the one served here at Cho Sun was average, nothing spectacular.

After Calvin got his sushi, we were served our Korean side dishes.

These side dishes are usually served prior to getting your main meal and most restaurants offer the same  dishes. My two favourites are the kimchi and the bean sprouts, both of which were yummy at Cho Sun.

Then finally, our BBQ'd meat came!!

My mouth is watering looking at this photo.

This basic set came with marinated chicken, pork and slices of beef ribs (you also get a small bowl of rice per person). The chicken was still quite tender to my surprise and the pork was delectable as well. The beef ribs however were fatty, but I think that's typical with that cut of meat. The portion was definitely enough for the 2 of us; we were able to eat almost the entire thing. I remember the last time we had Korean BBQ at Hanwoori (which is my favourite Korean restaurant), our BBQ set for 2 was huge, we were not able to eat all of it. So I was pleased with the size of our meal at Cho Sun. I think it was worth it for the price we paid. My meat craving was subdued and my tummy was happy once more.

My overall thoughts of Cho Sun? I would say that the prices are decent (not as expensive as Hanwoori) and the BBQ is good. As I mentioned earlier, Calvin and I don't normally order BBQ when we go to Korean restaurants - what we usually order is the dolsot bim bim bap (vegetables with a little bit of meat served with a raw egg on top of rice in a hot stone bowl). Maybe next time I crave this dish, I'll go to Cho Sun to see what it's like there, then I can determine for myself if this really is a good restaurant or not ;)

What made me choose to eat at Cho Sun anyway? Well when I was growing up, one of my godsisters had this giant brown teddy bear that had a funny leg. I guess the bear was manufactured by a Korean company because the tag on its ear said Cho Sun, which is what she named her bear. So when I noticed this Korean restaurant many years ago, it made me think of him :)

I guess both his legs look a little funny, don't they? LOL.

Anyway, hopefully this blog posting will help me get my groove back and I will have many more postings to come in the near future.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

Cho Sun BBQ Korean Restaurant
3486 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC   V5R 5L6

View Larger Map

Until next time! :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Osaka: Last Day - Final Thoughts and Reflections

It's been a week and a half since we came back from our trip and finally I have a chance to blog about our last day in Japan.

Not that there is much to say. Our flight out of Osaka was at 2:30 PM so we had a couple of hours in the morning to do some last minute souvenir shopping, including getting some Mister Donut to bring home. Calvin and I took turns separately to do some shopping on our own, but both of us forgot to buy the donuts! Boo! :(

I was hoping to catch the 11:30 AM bus to the airport, but surprisingly, we were done everything early and were able to catch the 11:10 bus. I always imagine places in Japan like Toyko and Osaka to have heavily congested car traffic. While I'm sure there are certain streets or highways that are heavily congested, I am glad the route our bus took was not one of them. Even though the bus made another stop (after we got on) to pick up more passengers, we still made it to the airport in about 25 minutes or less. 

At the Itami Airport, we had okonomiyaki for lunch and yes, we were able to do more shopping LOL. When we got to our gate there was a little play area for kids, so we let Jacob crawl around and have some fun before our long day of flying.

Either Jacob's not looking at the camera...

Or we're (well I'm) not looking :P
The rest of the day was just all about getting home. We chose to upgrade our seats again on our flight from Osaka to Tokyo, but it the J-class seats weren't the same as the previous flight. Still, it was more comfortable.

Then there was the long flight from Tokyo back to Vancouver. We had reserved the bassinet for this flight; however, this airplane was smaller than the one we had taken from Vancouver to Tokyo, so we didn't have such an easy time looking after Jacob. On the flight from Vancouver to Tokyo, there was quite a bit of space between our seats and the bassinet so that whenever Jacob started to get fussy, I could easily get up, pick him up, and stand there to calm him down. However, on this flight, there was very little space between our seats and Jacob's bassinet. Plus, it was really cold on the plane, so when Jacob started to get fussy, I had to rip the blankets off of me before I got up, pick Jacob up and then stand in the aisle because there was no room between our seats and his bassinet to stand up comfortably.

Thankfully, we survived the flight home without too many hiccups. I would say that Jacob actually doesn't mind flying, as long as he can get some good rest.

Although I'm glad to be home, I do miss being in Japan. There is so much to see, and so many places to eat *heehee* :D

When we were getting ready for the trip, almost everyone said that we were crazy for bringing Jacob. True, we couldn't have known exactly what would happen, but I wanted to stay positive that it would be a great trip. And it was a great trip. Sure, it was a little bit more tiring than it would have been if it were just me and Calvin, but like most days since he was born, Jacob surprised us everyday with his awesomeness while we were in Japan. I certainly don't have any regrets about bringing him with us and I know Calvin is glad that we brought him as well. It has definitely brought us closer as a family and if anything, it was a lot of quality time spent together, which Calvin hasn't had much of with Jacob since returning to work.

I think after this trip, Calvin and I feel we are more confident as parents and I can't wait for the next family trip! Although, I think the next one will probably just be Vegas LOL

Until next time :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Osaka: Day 10 (March 1, 2013)

Our last day in Osaka...

A lot of shopping again today, so we didn't take many pictures.

I was able to finally shop at Bershka though (I mentioned this store in my posting about Day 2). When I was on my honeymoon back in 2010, I had gone to a few Bershka stores and I noticed that each store had a different layout. When I went to the ones in Italy, I felt like I couldn't find anything I liked because I had to rummage through the racks to have a good look at stuff. Whereas at my favourite store in Athens, Greece, I was able to find stuff I liked because the clothes were displayed in a better manner. As for their store in Osaka, the store layout was well done, but it's not as big as the one in Greece. Still, I was able to find stuff I liked and spend mah money!!

Calvin was getting grumpy because I was taking too long in the store, but he was still nice enough to take this picture for me LOL.
Oh one funny thing I wanted to mention, when I went to the fitting room area to try on some clothes, the girl working there gave me a white cottony bag and she said the word, "head" motioning that I was supposed to wear it over my face when I try on the clothes. At least I'm pretty sure that's the message she was trying to convey. I thought it was a little weird, but when I actually did it, I realized it was a smart idea. The bag itself is not a full size bag, one side was longer than the other side. How it works is that you have the long side covering your face so that when you put on a shirt or something, you don't get makeup on the clothes. And like I mentioned, the bag is cottony, not plastic, so it's fairly breathable. It can get a little hot though if you're having difficulty putting something on and you have the bag on for a while. Plus, it looks ridiculous having it on, but nobody else sees you with it on so whatever. At least the clothes stay clean! Don't you hate it when you're looking in a store and you see makeup all over something you want to try on/buy?(Obviously this question is aimed at the ladies.)

After shopping at Bershka, it was time for some lunch. Since it was our last day in Osaka, I wanted to have a good beef meal. I had picked up another tourist pamphlet in our hotel lobby earlier and it mentioned a few beef places in the area. Most of them were only open for dinner, except for one. So Calvin and I start heading over there and after searching for a little while, we finally found it. However, it was only until after we ordered and the food started coming that I realized that we were in the wrong restaurant! The one we wanted to eat at was on second floor :( Normally, it's obvious when the building has restaurants on other floors, but I guess we were too eager this time to notice that. Epic fail.

Nonetheless, the food we had at this first-floor restaurant was alright. It's one of those places where everything is deep fried on a stick and then you dip it a sweet sauce (I think it was ponzu sauce) that is communal (so no double dipping!).

Uggghhh... I felt so gross after eating here.
Calvin and I still wanted to eat at the beef place so we decided to eat there for dinner. Unfortunately, that did not happen. It started to shower in the evening and it was quite heavy. We borrowed an umbrella from the hotel, but we didn't have a rain cover for Jacob's stroller, so we didn't want to risk him getting all wet walking out there. Instead, we ate at a pasta place in the underground subway area. Okay, that doesn't sound right. If you've been to Tokyo or any other large city in Japan before, you will notice that they have a lot of underground malls or areas at big subway stations where you'll find lots of shops and places to eat. It's really convenient for those who are just getting off the subway and are wanting a bite to eat without having to walk too far, or like us, don't want to walk outside in the yucky weather.

Calvin's pasta with a soft boiled egg. The Japanese are really into eggs in their pasta.
My pasta with lotsa mozza (and some spinach).
My pasta was pretty good, mostly cause of the cheese. There could have been more spinach in it. It wasn't the beef meal I originally wanted from the other restaurant, but the pasta left me satisfied.

The portion was just right - not too much, not too little, which meant I still had room for dessert :) My last treat in Osaka: a Beard Papa's cream puff, conveniently located a few stores down from the pasta place. We have Beard Papa's here in Vancouver, but Japan just came out with a new flavour, cookies and cream (maybe they came out with it in Vancouver too??).

You can get the cookies and cream filling in either the cocoa choux pastry or the regular vanilla one. I didn't realize that until after I ordered the cocoa version, but that's what I wanted anyway. I only got one for Calvin and myself to share, but after we brought it back to our hotel room and took a bite, we realized we should have bought more.

Heaven in choux pastry.
I should check to see if the Beard Papa's here is selling this flavour, or maybe I shouldn't otherwise I would eat myself into a sugar coma.

The rest of the night was spent packing, which we had already started on Thursday night. Good thing too, we had so much stuff, it took us a long time to get the luggages in order.

Our last night in Osaka.
I was sad that we were done our vacation, but I was also glad to be going home. One more morning in Osaka before we finally say goodbye to Japan!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Osaka: Day 9 (February 28, 2013)


Sorry this posting is a couple of days late, but our last 2 days in Japan were a little hectic.

Thursday was pretty much spent shopping. Calvin and I devoted a majority of the day around the Osaka-Umeda station (north side of Osaka). After looking around for a bit in Yodobashi (another major electronic store like Bic Camera), we went to the Umeda Sky Building, which is this crazy 40-story building with an observatory at the top.

A scale model of the building.
I tell Calvin this story all the time about how when I was in elementary school, I had taken swimming lessons at the nearby (well not that nearby) rec centre and quite often at the end of our lesson, our instructor would let us jump off the diving boards for some fun. I remember jumping off the highest diving board and not having any fear, just fun. But of course, I became old and am now scared of heights. I'm not deathly afraid of them, but if I am at a considerable height looking down, I forget about the feeling of my young days jumping off that diving board, rather, I welcome vertigo as my companion.

Anyway, back to the Umeda Sky Building, you start your journey up by taking an elevator (a fast moving elevator) all the way to the 35th floor. From there, you take a long, slow moving, somewhat steep escalator up another 4 stories. If you look at the scale model, the escalators are the 2 things at the top connecting the 2 buildings, so basically, there's nothing underneath you as you're taking the escalator up :S

The escalator!
Normally, if we need to take Jacob up an escalator (or down an escalator), we usually take him out of the stroller and one of us carries him. Note how I said "usually." There were certain occasions on this trip where we've kept him in the stroller and rode the escalator, which I'm sure a lot, if not most, parents have done at one point. Going up this escalator at the Sky Building was such an occasion. Not sure if that was the best idea, but we made it up in one piece (although during the way up, Calvin kept on saying how he was getting dizzy and going to drop Jacob :P). Once you get up to the 39th floor, you have to take the stairs (or elevator in our case) up another floor to get to the observatory. Unlike the Tokyo Tower, this is an actual outdoor observatory, which is what Calvin was hoping for so he could take some good panoramic shots. 

One of Calvin's many, many shots.
My stay up in the observatory did not last long, and not because of my fear of heights. While Calvin was busy being a photographer, I had Jacob with me and was pushing him around in the stroller when he starts crying. And no, not because he knew we were 40-stories above ground and that freaked him out, the little dude was hungry for some lunch. So down I went to the 39th floor where there were seats for people to look out and enjoy the view safely behind a thick glass pane. My kind of observing LOL.

Once Calvin was done, we took a little break and had a mango drink before heading back down. And once you leave the 39th floor, you are not allowed to re-enter. There goes my 700 yen entrance fee.

Since Jacob had his lunch already, it was time for Calvin and I to have ours. There was still one more store I wanted to go to in the area before we went back to the Shinsaibashi area, so we decided to find lunch on the way. While there are tons of places to eat around the shopping areas, this method of just finding a random place to eat is quite inefficient. Mostly because we can't make up our minds. After a checking out a few places, we chose to eat at CoCo Curry House, which is a popular curry chain Japan. At this point in our trip, I've probably had enough curry, but hey, what's one more heavy curry meal?

My beef curry with fried chicken.
Calvin's beef curry with lightly crisped chicken.
Calvin's chicken looked way better and tasted better. My chicken was covered with thick batter and didn't have much flavour. But the skin on Calvin's lightly crisped chicken was crunchy and delightful. Damn, I should have ordered what he had! It is not very often where I wish I had ordered what Calvin got, usually it's the other way around ;) Oh well, next time CoCo Curry House... next time.

The rest of the day was kind of a crunch for us, so we didn't take many more pictures. However, we came across a Rilakkuma store and took some shots there.

Me with a giant Rilakkuma and Jacob doing his impression of Rilakkuma LOL :D

Calvin tried their prize machine (where you move a robotic arm to hopefully grab something) and Calvin won!
In the evening, we walked around Shinsaibashi again and were able to buy quite a few things (things we wanted, things people asked for). It was a long day of shopping, but only one full day left before have to leave! *sob*

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Osaka: Day 8 (February 27, 2013)

Busy, busy day.

Today was our last day in Kyoto and while yesterday was a bit of a bust for sightseeing, Calvin and I were determined to go to some tourists spots today. Well one tourist spot at least, and the lucky winner was the Kitasaga Bamboo Grove!

Cute statues on the way to the bamboo grove.

Bamboooo... is there a panda in there somewhere?

The bamboo stalks have grown so tall!

Better image of how tall the bamboo have grown.
Like Koyasan, the trail for this bamboo grove was challenging for the stroller - some mud, a lot of gravel, stones, going both uphill and downhill. At least there wasn't any snow on the ground, and it was amazing seeing a thicket of these incredibly tall bamboo.

After we were done with the trail, we decided to eat lunch in the area before heading back to Kyoto. There was an interesting place that Calvin noticed on our way to the trail, so we went back to check out their menu.

Hmmm... what sort of food do they serve here?
Turns out it was a vegetarian place and they served set meals with various tofu and egg dishes. (Do the egg dishes make it not vegetarian anymore??) I will be honest with you, it didn't look appetizing to me at first, but Calvin wanted to give it a try so we agreed to be adventurous LOL.

The lunch set that I chose.

The lunch set that Calvin chose.
Most of the items in our sets were the same, except for the rice and the big soup - I chose a soup with a clear, thick broth and Calvin chose one that looked creamy.

At first I didn't think it would be filling, considering there was no meat involved, but there was a lot of food. There was so much tofu and egg stuff, I wasn't able to finish everything. And most of the dishes were actually really flavourful, although the dish I enjoyed the most was the mochi with crushed peanuts LOL.

Jacob looking out at the koi. Okay, he's really just looking out because he doesn't know what koi are, but they're there!
The restaurant had both regular tables to sit at, plus the tatami rooms, but we chose the tatami rooms to get the full experience. Plus, it allowed Jacob to crawl around while we ate :)

On the way back to the street car station (we had to take a subway and then a street car to get to the bamboo place), we got some soft serve (they call it soft cream in Japan) as dessert. At first I thought the flavour was matcha and chocolate, but it turned out the brown side was a roasted tea flavoured soft serve. Interesting.

I wish the servings in Japan were a lot bigger when it comes to ice cream.
The ice cream turned out to be really good. Calvin enjoyed both the ice cream and the cone immensely, so much that he pretty much ate most of it (we were supposed to share it). To make up for it, he bought me more ice cream back at the subway station.

Ice cream overload!
Glico has these awesome ice cream vending machines. Calvin had tried one the other day, it was a cookies and cream flavour I think and it was so good. I was going to get the same thing today, but went for the chocolate mint instead. It reminded me a lot of the chocolate chip mint from Baskin Robbins, which is a good thing because Baskin Robbins is my favourite ice cream place. The awesome thing about the Glico vending machine though is that the ice cream is so cheap! The one I bought was only 120 yen, which is about $1.34 Canadian, and the size is fairly decent. You can't go wrong with that. I don't know how Japanese people aren't more fat with all these sweets tempting them everywhere they go. I'm sure I've packed on a few pounds since getting here despite all the walking we're doing. Hah.

After a quick pit stop at Kyoto station, we headed back to Osaka. Although we were tired and had walked a lot already today, we chose to try for one more outing. Back in 2011, on our last Japan trip, we were out in the residential area of Sapporo and came across a wonderful store called Nitori. Nitori is basically like Home Outfitters/Bed Bath and Beyond and Ikea combined where you can find cute (and I do mean cute because you can find a lot of pink stuff here) items for your home.

When I was doing research for this trip, I googled where the nearest Nitori was and I found one that was a train stop away, but when we got to our hotel, I could actually see the Nitori sign from our window. Calvin figured we could just walk there, so we did. It turned out to not be such a great idea though because it took us like half an hour to find it. We were in the dark too. Eventually we found it though and I was happy/relieved.

Yay! We found it!

This is Calvin trying to discreetly take a photo of the inside of the store.
The store has 3 floors: 1st floor had bedding, small household appliances, kitchen items, dining ware, bathroom items, bedroom items, storage items, and stationary. The 2nd floor had some bedroom furnishings, including kids furniture, lighting, and desks. The 3rd floor had larger furniture like couches as well as kitchen fixtures.

Of course, we could only buy so much due to our restricted luggage space, but we still bought quite a few things. They have really nice vanity sets, which are hard to find here in Canada, and I want to get one so badly but we're not sure if they can ship to Canada. We tried asking a staff member, but he did not understand English.

Jacob's very own massage chair. We weren't sure if it was really meant for kids or if the demo size is supposed to be that small.

Here are pictures of some of the things we picked up there:

Not sure what's "ouchi" here LOL.

Plate/dinner bowl set with matching chopsticks for Jacob. Kawaii!
We didn't want to walk back to the hotel afterwards so we took the subway - much easier. When we reached the desired platform, we noticed that we were the only ones standing on that platform, everyone else was on the other side. So naturally, we thought we were on the wrong side and felt silly standing there all alone (the cheese stands alone, the cheese stands alone), but then our train came so it was all good.

When we got back to Namba station, we picked up a quick bit to eat at a standing ramen place:

Calvin's ramen. Mine was pretty much the same thing, but Calvin's had an egg in it, which you can see it hiding back there.
With only 2 full days left, it's crunch time to get all our shopping and sightseeing done.

Until next time! :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Osaka: Day 7 (February 26, 2013)

Wow, I can't believe it's been 7 days already. I feel like we haven't done anything LOL.

Today, we headed out to Kyoto, so we were supposed to have an early start, which there was a possibility of that happening since Jacob woke up crying around 6:00 AM. However, Calvin put him back to sleep and then fell asleep again himself. Okay, I fell asleep too, but then I woke up again around 8. And okay, I admit that I should have started getting ready right away, but I got some good shots of those two still snoozing and I had to Instagram them! (You can view my Instagram photos here.)

So instead of leaving around 9:00 AM, we ended up leaving around 11:00 AM. When we arrived in Kyoto, it was still before 1 o'clock? Anyway, we'll be staying one night in Kyoto for this side trip, and we're staying at the Kyoto Hotel Okura. The room we received is bigger than the one back in Osaka, but you can tell by the furnishings/fixtures that it's an older hotel (or at least hasn't been renovated in a long time). Still, it's a nice room and they were nice enough to let us use a baby crib for free! Our hotel in Osaka has baby cribs for guests with babies to use, but they charge some ridiculous nightly fee to use it :P

Since we arrived in Kyoto around lunch time, Calvin and I were feeling a bit hungry. Luckily for Calvin, we passed by a KFC on the way to the hotel from the train station. 

There were several things that Calvin was looking forward to consuming while on this trip to Japan (in no particular order):

  1. Mister Donut check
  2. melon soda check
  3. chicken strips from McDonald's check
  4. fried chicken from KFC check
My crispy chicken sandwich.
Okay, I didn't realize that Calvin only took a picture of my sandwich, but now I remember that he was so eager to have his KFC fix that he ate his meal on the way to the hotel. I personally find their fried chicken really oily, which is why I ordered the sandwich. It tasted okay, pretty much the same at home, only a bit smaller in size.

After checking into our hotel room, which they were able to let us check in early, we walked around to find a Starbucks. 

Our Sakura white chocolate mocha and the Kyoto edition Starbucks card.
I also got the Osaka edition Starbucks card, but unfortunately, we're not able to add gift cards from Japan to our Starbucks app. We were thinking of downloading the Japanese Starbucks app, but we're not even sure if they have an app for Japan.

For those of you wondering about the Sakura white chocolate mocha, it has a certain sweetness/flavour to it that's different from a regular white chocolate mocha. I guess Sakura has a flavour? To be honest, if a drink could taste pink, that's what it would taste like LOL.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking down a popular shopping street before heading back to our hotel room to take a break before dinner. 

Calvin's freshly made red-bean cake.

Just from walking around the area close to our hotel, Calvin and I noticed that there are temples/shrines everywhere.
The main city centre of Kyoto is west of Kamo River, so for dinner, Calvin wanted to walk to the east side and find a place there to eat. Only thing is, when we got to that side (the hotel is only like a minute away from the river), we couldn't find any places to eat. We had actually found this cute plaza area that had mostly restaurants and we were going to eat at this one place that looked like they served Korean bbq; however, the staff did not understand any English. We didn't think that it would be that big a deal, since we've encountered similar situations before, but this time it seemed like the staff were scared of us. The host seemed very nervous when we got there and he asked if we could speak or understand Japanese. When we said no, he motioned for us to wait a moment while he walked to do something or get someone. We were waiting there for a few minutes and were wondering if he was coming back. We felt awkward, so we just decided to leave and find some place else to eat.

I told Calvin that most of the restaurants seem to be on the side of the river where our hotel is, so we walked back and quickly found a place to have dinner.

The place was called Sumika and the food was kind of Korean/Japanese fusion. We ordered a few things off of the menu, including pasta (haha), and we were not disappointed.

Calvin trying to drink his yuzu and orange milk.

"Roast beef" - at least that's what the English menu says.

Rice and beef served in a hot stone bowl (with an egg too of course).
Ebi mayo.

Spaghetti bolognese.
All the dishes were really tasty. My only complaint though was that the "roast beef" was cold. I am not sure if it was supposed to be like beef carpaccio, if it was, the pieces were too think and a little chewy to be beef carpaccio. Other than that, we enjoyed all the other dishes.

Anyway, time for me to get some shut eye before Jacob wakes up for a feeding. Sorry about any spelling mistakes!!

Until tomorrow :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Osaka: Day 6 (February 25, 2013)

Another change in the itinerary for today.

While I like having a plan, I think I can be pretty flexible when it comes to changes (maybe). Besides, I'm on vacation, right? I should be more relaxed and easy going ;)

Today we were supposed to go to Kobe, but it didn't seem like there would be much to see there, so we decided to go to Nara instead. Nara is a small town (?) about half an hour (by train) outside of Osaka. Nara is famous for being home to several World Heritage sites and also for their live deer.

We were able to take an express train from Namba station (where our hotel is located) all the way to Nara. I was thinking today how lucky we were to find such a great hotel (we're staying at the Hotel Monterey Osaka). The hotel is very conveniently located - we're closest to one of the biggest train stations in Osaka, there's all this shopping nearby and places to eat. There are so many places that are within walking distance from our hotel. Plus, our hotel is one of the taller buildings in the area, so when we're walking on an unfamiliar street and we need to find our way back, it's easy to locate where our hotel is and go from there.

Random photo of Jacob in the elevator. We have to take so many elevators because of the stroller.
Anyway, back to today's outing. I figured that the time would eventually come where we'd have a somewhat embarrassing Jacob incident out in public while on vacation here in Japan. And it decided to happen this morning. Calvin had bought a rice ball to eat on the train and decided to feed Jacob some of the rice. He broke off a chunk and tried to put it in Jacob's mouth, but Jacob was either unprepared or didn't want it at first, so the chunk ended up falling onto his shirt. I then picked up the chunk and put it in Jacob's mouth. Turned out the chunk was too big and little guy started to gag. So out came the rice, bits of seaweed, and some of the milk he just drank all over his scarf, sweater, and shirt :( I felt bad for him cause it looked like a lot came out. Anyway, this all happened while on the train, but good thing I had an extra pair of clothes so we proceeded to change him in front of everyone (and there were people sitting near us). If the people sitting close to us didn't notice him gag and throw up all of his food, they would have noticed us changing him and were probably wondering what was going on. LOL. Ah, the joys of parenthood :D

When we arrived at Nara, Calvin originally wanted to take the bus to the park, but when we realized that it was only 800 metres away, we decided to walk. I know I mentioned in my posting about Koyasan that it was really cold there, but I don't think I've mentioned that it's been really cold in Osaka as well. And apparently the same goes for Nara. That biting wind has been following us everywhere on this trip. Walking everywhere has been good exercise for me and Calvin, but I feel like we're limited to how long we can walk because it's so damn cold!

Right when we reached the entrance of the park, you could already see the Nara deer roaming around freely. There is a man at the entrance, that sells special biscuits for tourists to buy and feed the deer (good idea or not?).

This is me looking amazed at how close the deer approach people and wondering how hard I would kick the deer if it decided to attack Jacob LOL.
The park itself is really big, several of the World Heritage sites are located in the park as well. You will find deer roaming around throughout the entire park, and a word of warning for those who are thinking of visiting: stepping on deer droppings is inevitable.

Calvin bought the biscuits (150 yen) and got the deer to follow him around for a bit before letting them have all the treats.
Calvin said he wanted his own pagoda to live in. Alrighty then.

No, that's not a statue.

Nice family photo.

One of the ponds at the park.

Calvin and Jacob goofing around :)
I admitted to Calvin that I was enjoying our mini excursion in Nara more than our excursion in Koyasan and he agreed. The area was a lot nicer to walk around (despite the deer droppings), there wasn't any snow on the ground, and best of all, it only cost us about $6 Canadian to get there, unlike the $60 we spent on going to and from Koyasan.

Although I do wonder how they control the deer population in the area. Maybe I shouldn't be thinking about that :S

That's pretty much it for pictures for the rest of the day. We had lunch before leaving Nara at this cafĂ© near the train station. I was really hungry by the time we got our food that I forgot to take a picture of it :P We had chicken teriyaki burgers and fries. The burger was alright, just somewhat on the small side. We also got a hazelnut latte, which was really yummy. 

When we got back to our hotel room, it was already early evening and we didn't feel like having to go out again for dinner so Calvin bought take out nearby and we ate in our room. We originally wanted to get pasta from this popular Italian chain they have here (I've blanked out at the moment and can't remember the name, Italian Tomato, something like that) but you can't get the pasta as take out. So instead, we ended up having beef curry and rice from this other place. Again, I didn't take a photo, but the curry was only so-so anyway.

Okay, time for me to go to bed. It's 12:39 AM right now and we need to have an early start tomorrow, because we're heading to Kyoto :)

Goodnight, everyone! (How do you say that in Japanese? I should probably learn that.)